Same for me. 3e to me is perfect - 100% real D&D feel, but cleaned up and rational.
You found the secret! 3.5e Core Books is the platonic ideal of D&D, and works best in levels 1-about 10, maybe 12. That’s assuming you lIke low-level D&D, which I wholeheartedly do. Fireball is awesome, but when you get into 4th and 5th level spells, PC’s are a little too much for normal adventures, IMHO.
Just as pure 1e AD&D Core Books is awesome, if you can deal with the messiness and ignore a lot of it (weapon speed?) - 3e is the streamlined version.
Nah just get Swords & Wizardry! Lol I kid. I love me some 1e AD&D!